Embroidery stitches

Today I’ve found a nice little guide to how to do some embroidery stitches. These stitches can be combuined in all sorts of ways to make up lots of designs.

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An Indigo Story

Here is a nice, but short, video about traditional indigo processes. With some lovely photography. Just make sure you maximize it on your screen so you can see the subtitles.

But you won’t see the technique in this picture with the traditional techniques. This is done using bulldog clips.

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I needed a new waste paper basket…

At the end of last summer, I had a summer house built on the terrace, over the back door. I wanted somewhere to sit and enjoy the garden on the many days when it is too windy to sit outside. I was thinking of summer evenings, but actually I’ve been out there, door firmly shut, on sunny afternoons already. We are calling it the south wing.

Fortunately, I decided to furnish it as I saw things I liked, rather than wait until summer, so I have beaten the lockdown there. I have a bits bowl out there for trimmings of thread and what not, but a few days ago I was finishing some weaving out there. And loom waste was too much for the system. I need a proper bin. Does this fall into the definition of essentual purchases? Not really. Can I make do with a box for now? Well yes, but there has to be a better way.

Then I remembered pictures in old books of woven newspaper. So I went online and had a look. There are two ways of doing this:

  • Cut strips and roll them up into small tubes, giving a result that looks like fine cane. It looks really good, but the chances of me rolling and gluing enough strips without getting in a mess are slim.
  • Cut wide strips and fold them in half. Than sounds much more practical.

So I used my rotary cutter to make a pile of 2 inch wide strips, which seemed sensible. I folded them in half, which didn’t seem firm enough. So I folded them again to make half inch strips. That seemed better.

Now I have experience of basket weaving. I made a waste paper basket at school, when I was about 9 or 10, and that basket is still in service in the living room. I also had a go when I needed baskets for my dolls’ house. That was less successful, as I couldn’t balance everything to get it going.

So applying my vast knowledge, I set to, making a square base. I stapled the first group of strips together to avoid everything slipping all over the place, and that worked fine, and progress was good. Then I got to the part where I needed to start the sides. That needs some tension, to pull everything in. And that is where the trouble started.

By this stage, I was getting towards the end of my first strips of newspaper. The instructions I had seen said you just slot the next strip into the fold. That would have worked on the flat base, where there was no tension, but it wasn’t so easy when I was trying to turn the corner. I tried paper clips, but they didn’t work. The new strip just slipped out again. Staples did the trick. Initially, I thought I would take the staples out when things were more settled, but I have decided it isn’t worth the risk.

Weaving in progress

Things were easier once I’d turned the corner, but the next problem came when I started to add new uprights. Not only was it difficult to keep them in place, but also they flopped about. As you can see, I ended up with a vast tangled mass of long strips. A couple of times when I put it down, I couldn’t find the correct end to keep going. I got round this by using a small bulldog clip to hold my place.

I had planned to make it taller, but I wasn’t sure whether it would be firm enough. I got to a stage to where several uprights were coming to an end, so I decided to give up. I needed a firm top edge, to compensate for the unexpected flexibility. Anything technical, where you tuck in the ends seemed too risky. I’d probably tear things at a crucial place. I thought a bound edge was worth a try.

Finishing the top edge

I cut a couple of strips 6 inches wide, because that is the width of my rotary cutter ruler. I used three layers, and folded under a “hem” of an inch on each long edge, using the ruler. I intended to glue the band on, but I decided that it was too ambitious to tidy up the ends at the same time I was gluing. I treated the strip as a piece of bias binding. I lined one long edge of the strip up with the top of the weaving, which I tidied up as I worked round, stapling the strip down as I went.

Turning the binding strip over the top of the basket.

Turning the strip up along the fold I’d already made was surprisingly hard. I was glad I’d already made the fold before I started, and that I had some strength frm the three layers. Turning the strip over to the inside of the basket was also difficult.

At the moment, the inside is held down with Scotch tape, which I don’t think will last, but I’m not sure how to make it more permanent. That will need some thought, and I’ll get round to it at some point. For now, at least I have a functioning bin.

If I do this again, I will use wider stripe to make the result firmer. I think the minimum should be to cut 4 inches wide, and folded twice to make an inch strip for weaving. That would be flexible to work with, but firmer when it is done. It would be considerably easier to get tension, and to finish the upper edge.

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Making beautiful colours without toxic chemicals

Sometimes progress is not a good thing. For example, “improving” the way we obtain  indigo colour by using a synthetic substitute introduced all sorts of substances we now know are harmful to the process.

This post on making beautiful colours without toxic chemicals shows how genetically engineering bacteria to mirror the way the Japanese indigo plant makes colour may help.

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Shetland lace blouses

This is following on with the theme of knitting from the Northern Isles.

When you see knitted lace, it is usually an edging for something, or a scarf or shawl.

But as these pictures show, that was not always the case. This post about lace blouses shows the potential for this technique.

Although given my history of wrecking shetland lace scarves by getting them caught in things, I don’t think I’ll be going in that direction.

And by the way, if you are ever in Shetland, you really must go to the Shetland Museum.

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Fair Isle: The remote island where jumpers are always in fashion

This post has some fabulous archive pictures of Fair Isle jumpers, which are worth a look.

And I’m using it as an excuse to pst a picture of my Burra Bear: a souvenir of a Shetland holiday. His name is Huggins.

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Spinning wheels

I’ve found a new game.

The National Trust have put photos of their collection online, and you can search it in all sorts of different ways. How about that for an excellent way of looking a interesting stuff? This link will take you to the collection of spinning wheels. When I did his search there were pictures of 70 of them. The variety is amazing. There is even a glass one.

The picture on this page is mine. and yes, it does get used. I turn the wheel most days, but haven’t been brave enough to spin with it yet!

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Identifying sewing machine feet

Do you ever look at your collection of sewing machine feet and wonder which one you need for the current job?

This post will help.

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I love every part of this post about making beautiful tassels.

Apart from the tassels themselves, just look at those racks of thread. And there is the machinery, and…

Even if I could afford to go mad in a tassel shop like this I don’t think I would be able to make my mind up. There are limits to where you can put tassels.

Still, it is interesting, and much more exotic than mine!

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Making felt flowers

Felt is cheap and cheerful, and easy to work with. If you need to cheer something up, and it doesn’t need to be washable, felt is worth considering.

Here is a useful post about 10 ways to make felt flowers.

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